December 11, 2013
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Thursday, December 18, 2008
A fellow by the name of Bill Smith was inducted into the Babe Ruth League Hall of Fame:
With more than 52 years of service to America’s largest youth baseball organization, Bill Smith of Chickasha has been named to the Babe Ruth League’s National Hall of Fame.
Good for him. He sounds like a remarkable individual who has spent his life doing good things. But I take umbrage at this:
“The Babe Ruth League is devoted to helping America’s kids find early success in sports,” says Smith, a lifelong baseball fan.
In my case the Babe Ruth League was the first place I ever found athletic failure. Really, I was quite awful, and I blame the Babe Ruth League's failure to help me find early success in sports for my subsequent chubby, couch potato existence.*
So, Bill Smith, on the eve of your induction, I hope you remember to own your failures (i.e. mine) as well as your successes.
*note: the fat and lazy may have come before I played Babe Ruth baseball, but I'm sure that is neither here nor there.
Note to the Wall Street Journal: It's the "Rule 5 Draft," not the "Rule V Draft." The error is one that I'd normally let slide, but the article itself contains evidence that this was not some typo:
The Rule V draft fits perfectly in the lexicon of baseball, where words like "non-tendered," "infield fly," and "non-waiver trade deadline" cause casual fans to scratch their heads in bewilderment. (To answer the usual first question – V is a Roman numeral, not a letter.)
In the WSJ's defense, hey, even a wrong answer is an answer.
It's easier to prohibit something than to make the alternatives more desirable:
In an effort to dissuade top amateurs from skipping out to play professionally abroad--as corporate league righty Junichi Tazawa has done--Nippon Professional Baseball is studying a plan to ban them from playing on their return to Japan.
I appreciate that NPB wants to stop the talent drain to the U.S., but this rule is idiotic. If a Japanese player is good enough to stick in Major League Baseball, he's probably not going to be interested in coming back anyway. If a Japanese player is good enough to get a contract with an MLB team but not good enough to stick, NPB should welcome him back if he wants to come home because he's probably a really damn good player for the NPB and would thus elevate the quality of play. If those players are not allowed back in, they're going to go to Korea or Mexico or someplace that is not Japan, thereby exacerbating the problem they're trying to solve.
Jim Allen from the Daily Yomiuri hits it right on the nose:
Hopefully, cooler heads will prevail and NPB will elect not to throw the babies out with the bath water.
(link via WSJ)
Rafael Furcal's head fake to Atlanta and re-signing with the Dodgers has, quite predictably, inspired some ire on the part of Braves' management:
“From our perspective, we reached an agreement Monday night,” Braves General Manager Frank Wren said. “They asked for a term sheet for us to sign on Tuesday morning, and we sent over the signed termed sheet” . . .
Attention first year law students: you now know what will be on your Contracts exam. Given this head start, I expect all of you to ace it.
As for the specifics of all of this, I have no idea what really went down, but I have this feeling it would have been a far less humiliating experience for the Braves if people from their front office didn't spend all day Tuesday talking about the deal to the media.
Sorry for the late start today, but I was up late last night watching a fantastic movie. And it wasn't just entertaining. I learned something to keep in mind when conducting research: When you go looking for something specific, your chances of finding it are very bad. Because of all the things in the world, you're only looking for one of them. When you go looking for anything at all, your chances of finding it are very good. Because of all the things in the world, you're sure to find some of them.
So there's that. Anyway:
I've mentioned several times before how difficult it might be for a young player to resist an Evan Longoria-style early deal rather than wait until they can hit the free agent market or at least arbitration. Sure, the deals are technically "under market" for many of these guys -- Longoria is going to be baseball's biggest bargain very soon -- but it's a lot of money, and who are we (or their agents) to tell them not to set themselves and their family up for life at the first opportunity? Still, it's worth realizing how much is left on the table when a player makes this kind of deal, and to do that, let's do a quick and dirty case study.
Jhonny Peralta, while not signing as early as some of the more recent dudes, did sign a deal that basically bought out arbitration with a team option for what would have been his first year of free agency. His annual salaries so far are as follows (note: he also had a $1.25M signing bonus)*
2011 Club Option for $7M ($250K buyout).
*note: he was up for half of 2003 and for a cup of coffee in 2004, during which he made a pro-rata of $300K.
So, assuming his option is exercised, Peralta will have made $20,066,700 through what, all things being equal, would have been his first year of free agency. At the end of that he has nothing guaranteed.
Rafael Furcal went through arbitration and then entered free agency. His progression looks like this:
Through those first same seven years (six pre-free agency and first year in free agency) Furcal made $21,175,508, or a bit over a million more than Peralta. The big difference, of course, is that at that same point in time, Furcal had an additional two guaranteed years ahead of him worth $29 million bucks, whereas Peralta has nothing. Sure, barring injury or major face plant Peralta will sign some kind of deal for 2012 and beyond, but that's a long time from now, and even if he stays healthy, I question whether he can expect to sign a deal averaging close to $15M per year. And that's even before you adjust Furcal's numbers upwards for the 5-6 years of inflation to account for the differences in ages. After all, you know that Furcal would have made more than the $2.2-5.6M he made in arbitration if those arbitrations had happened in 2006-2009 instead of when they did.
The upshot of all of this is that no matter what you or I would have done in his situation, Peralta did leave a decent amount of money on the table by signing early. If I had to ballpark it, I'd say that you take the actual $1M less he did make, add in a couple of million more for the inflation factor, and then guesstimate something like $3-5M a year less for 2012 and 2013, resulting in something north of $7M bucks less than Furcal through a comparable portion of his career. Maybe it will be even more.
Maybe that changes the calculus, maybe it doesn't, but there is no escaping the fact that these kinds of deals are quite team friendly, and as players are signed earlier and earlier, they are getting more team friendly as time goes on.
And remember, people: Keep moving every few months. Stay out of Westernized countries for a while. Don't carry too much cash on your body. Give incorrect information everywhere, and never use your real name.
While I am a lawyer by trade and a baseball writer by force of passion, if I could choose one job out of any in the world to have, it would be private investigator. No, not a real one like the guy who found out that your uncle was cheating on your aunt or the one who took video of you snowboarding while you pretended to be out of work on a disability claim. That's boring. I'm thinking more along the lines of Lew Archer or Darryl Zero or the Continental Op. A loner of a guy whose quick, sarcastic, and cynical jibes mask a romantic soul that has been battered by the harsh realization that corruption exists in all levels of society.
Oh, and scotch and dames too. Gotta have scotch and dames.
Unfortunately, I have yet to come across the right opportunity in that particular field, so I will have to make do with small, pro bono cases until some wealthy heiress goes missing or some shady businessman asks me to help him find the person who is blackmailing him. Thankfully, such opportunities are not that hard to find. Got one just last night, in fact, from reader Levi Stahl. Levi works in publishing (and has a most excellent book blog, by the way), and as such, reads an awful lot of stuff. He's also a big baseball fan, so when books and baseball get together, he is a happy guy. Unfortunately, books and baseball have combined to stump him -- in a detective novel, no less -- and he needs our help:
I've been stumped by a question that marries my two biggest interests: baseball and literature. I'm reading Rex Stout's Fer-de-Lance, which was the first mystery he wrote about Nero Wolfe (who would go on to star in 43 novels, a radio show -- wherein he was played by the incomparable Sydney Greenstreet -- and a couple of television shows), and at one point Archie Goodwin, Wolfe's primary operative, writes, appropos of being astonished anew by the beauty of Wolfe's orchid collection, "It was like other things I've noticed, for instance no matter how often you may have seen Snyder leap in the air and one-handed spear a hot liner like one streak of lightning stopping another one, when you see it again your heart stops."
So I ask you, ShysterBall readers: let's put on our dashing black fedoras, light up a Chesterfield, take a slug of courage from our office bottles, and help Levi solve his case. Let's bring in this Snyder fella. If you have to jam a roscoe in his button to do it, hey, that's jake.